Connor McGuire @ The Wired Monk

Connor’s band, Anger and After, started to break up when their twenty-one year old drummer began devoting more time and attention to a twenty-something band with connections to a local recording studio. Just at the point where A&A had gig offers, he became double-booked - and chose the more mature band over his two seventeen-year-old Anger and After band mates.

Disheartened, Connor and Simon struggled through auditions. One young drummer brought his girlfriend and asked for a mid-audition break so he could smoke some pot. Another played, unaccompanied, the complete and extremely complex drum part from a Dillinger Escape Plan song.

With a new drummer failing to materialize, Simon became less and less committed to the idea of the band. He explained that his musical tastes were shifting toward more artistic and experimental music. One night he called Connor to say that he would be unable to attend the drummer audition planned for that evening because he was going to a concert by one of those artistic and experimental bands. Although the two of them had been best friends since grade six, their musical partnership ended that night.

Two years later, last Friday night, at a coffee shop in Crescent Beach, a standing-room-only crowd listened intently as Connor, acoustic guitar balanced on his lap, described one of the first songs he had ever written.

“I’ve revamped the chords a bit, but the words still suck.” he said, grinning.

Then he called his friend Simon to the stage to sing the song with him.

From the moment he said; “Hi, I’m Connor McGuire, I write my own songs”, he had the young, and usually fidgety, audience in complete pin-drop-quiet control. He played for an hour - just him and his guitar - interspersing his amazing songs with charming and engaging banter. The crowd cheered, whooped, whistled and hollered after every tune. He completely owned.

Just two years after the collapse of his first rock band, Connor has returned to the stage with a completely new, and improved, version of himself. He’s written a collection of heartbreakingly powerful songs - each new one better than the last. He’s taught himself finger picking and has profited from the classical guitar lessons he took. His singing has become natural and unaffected and his vocal phrasing amazes me.

Connor’s show at the Wired Monk on Friday was a watershed in his music career. He’s proven to himself that he can do this by himself. What he did on Friday can be replicated successfully on any stage anywhere.